About 100 animal welfare campaigners gathered at the Ramsgate Port approach road yesterday evening to protest against the first scheduled export of live farm animals for ritual slaughter in the EU since 2015. 4 lorries carrying approximately 1,000 sheep tried to enter the port approach road at around 8.30pm. At least 50 campaigners staged a sit down on the approach road, holding up the lorries whilst the police, who numbered about 20 officers, struggled to remove them. Other campaigners gathered around the waiting lorries chanting at the drivers and accusing them of having “blood on their hands”. A sentiment with which I totally agree. The lorries eventually moved towards the port after a 10 minute delay. The 4 lorries were quickly loaded on to the ferry Joline which left Ramsgate Port at approximately 9.30pm to the shouts and jeers of group of 30 campaigners who had gathered on the harbour arm.
It made me feel sick to witness the cramped and squalid conditions these animals are forced to endure. To get to Ramsgate these animals had already travelled for many hours, on one of the hottest days of the year, with limited access to food and water in lorries awash with urine and excrement. Once in Calais they then face many more hours of traveling in these appalling conditions and a grisly end with a ritual throat cutting. It angers to me think that in the 21st century we continue to treat animals with medieval barbarity. It angers me even more to think that the taxpayers of Thanet have had to pay the exporters at least £5.5 million compensation and legal costs for banning their trade for 5 weeks in 2012. In my opinion this compensation was blood money.
If you add on to the £5.5 million all the other taxpayer funded costs including the costs of policing demonstrations; the costs of intelligence gathering and surveillance of campaigners; legal costs for the 20 plus court cases which have taken place since the campaign against live exports began; the costs of government inspectors who make cursory and totally insufficient checks of each shipment; the administration costs in checking and approving journey plans etc etc, I reckon that this cruel and evil trade has cost tax payers at least £10 million over the past 5 years. Working on the assumption that 300,000 animals have been exported during this 5 year period it works out that the UK taxpayer has subsidised this cruel and barbaric trade at the rate of £33 per sheep.
This is a trade that an overwhelming majority of our country does not approve of. Hopefully Brexit will eventually mean that the EU regulations which permit this despicable trade will be abolished in the UK and then it can be banned. But why wait for at least 2 years? Why continue to tolerate the abuse? I call on the Government to take unilateral action and stop the trade. If the EU threatens to fine the UK tell them to fuck right off. We are at the EU exit doors already and the threat of a fine is pretty meaningless in these circumstance. But in the meantime I hope that protests and demonstrations continue at Ramsgate and that direct action can make this shameful trade unsustainable. It did in the 1990s!
There are at least another 10 shipments planned from Ramsgate this summer. I'll keep you informed of dates and please join me in standing up against this cruelty on your doorstep.